People who are new to the network or who haven't put something up lately, please jump in...

What keeps a network healthy and happy is diverse contributions, a bunch of stuff from a variety of viewpoints. Things like this: a reaction to what someone else said, not a big deal, just a note that you read it, some connection you saw in your life or what you've been wondering about. How about a photo, a comment, a forum, a blog? How How about a link in the middle of a discussion, leading to another discussion that goes with it elsewhere on the web?

Be experimental. Contribute, keep the input coming.

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Encouraging: input from new members!

Please start a forum. Ask a question. What's on your mind? What would you like to talk about? What are you doing in class that makes you think and wonder?

I remember what got me started: it was an experienced networker saying that after lurking for a while and reading around, you've got to take the plunge and start something up. It's a mindshift: once you add in, you're involved in a network in a different way.

And from my studies in neuroscience, you're opening up a new set of brain activities, social-brain activities. Gradually your cognition changes... I way I think of it is that conceptually, the mind begins "thinking in linking;" internet becomes metaphor for thought-structure. Or perhaps it's other way around, or perhaps it's back and forth, or maybe one mirrors and accelerates the other.

Benefits: sharper memory, more thinking, engagement in communication, exercise in writing, increased listening, ability to weave input together from all over the place, creativity, willingness to experiment, confidence, growth, reflection, questioning, development of a global perspective instead of just the local view, ability to evaluate, personal development through cognitive involvement, hunting-for-information-capacity, and the probability that keeping one's self charged-up with all the engagement will ward off many of the problems associated with aging! (But don't forget to exercise--get off the computer, too!)

Here's a cool picture of the internet--you're a player in this:

and just in case you need to get your bearings,

Thinking in linking is fun! I can just feel those dendrites branching : )

Fig.3: Two adjacent hippocampal neurons with synapses shown in pink. Insets (yellow boxes) show dendrite segments in green with protruding spines. Red lines indicate the electrical synaptic response of these dendrites. Small spines are associated with weak synapses (left inset) whereas large spines are associated with strong synapses (right inset).

Cortical neurons (brain cells) of an embryonic rat (200x) by Adele J. Vincent

Have I got a site for you. Since we love these weird pictures of neurons and networks, complex systems, all that, you've just got to check out this place:
Bordalier Institute. When it loads up, scroll down a ways (about a fifth of the bar on the right) and you'll see all sorts of wonderfully enticing pictures...
and here's a cartoon that appears along the way:

WOW! (wow wow wow) Thanks, Connie!

Here's my version of the above timeline (I've posted it before : ) )

I like the You Are Here - but for me it is extra funny, because that is the Andromeda galaxy!
Thanks, Ed,
See, just goes to show how direction-impaired I am. Wrong galaxy, sigh. Took a wrong turn somewhere...

I love graphics like this, especially when we use them to create understanding of a problem, or of how a group like Fireside Learning might work together to build solutions to different problems.

The graphic here is from a Facebook application that enables users to map members in their Facebook friends network, and show the different groups they are part of. This village map is an example of the different types of people and organizations who need to be part of forums like Fireside, so they are connecting their ideas and talents and resources in efforts to help more kids overcome learning obstacles caused by health, family, community or economics. I encourage you to take a look at the new animated version of the village map, created for me by students from the University of Michigan who spent their 2009 winter break with me, rather than on a beach some place.
Daniel, you're always the practical activist... doing so much to change the world, one village at a time. Gradually a Village of Villages develops, all connected through common purpose. Thank you for each and every post you share.
David, the animated version of your village map is very engaging... and a clear example, when contrasted to the static chart (from which it links) of the power of this medium to focus and engage the viewer... very nice, effective work, from purely a design standpoint. If anybody is reading this, take a look... it is an illuminating example.
Thanks for looking at the Village map and animation. If you visit the GIS Group at you can see some other animations and an interactive map service we are beginning to roll out. The work on these projects is done by people from beyond Chicago, or who I've first met through the Internet. This is a practical example of how network building helps us expand the network.
Connie...I finally received David Perkins book, "Making Leaning Whole". I've dabbled in it (hard to find the time to read) and like it...don't love it yet...but I'm especially intrigued by the "finding problems" piece. We're always chatting about problem solving, but he found it difficult to find a problem to research for a dissertation. I am finishing my CAGS and know that I'll need a year to think about the next step. Like Perkins, I want to find a good problem to research...I love positive psychology, want to become more skilled technologically, and believe firmly that education is the key to a better to turn that into an event that intrigues young people to focus on the education while in high school is a mystery still...
Kathryn, I finished the book and like it very much indeed. I think a lot of discussion forums could arise from it. Maybe you and I should get something started?

Hopefully, participating on the network will provide fertile ground for asking--and finding--more questions... and those may in turn lead to ideas for a problem for you to research. Talk away, share your thoughts, one thing will lead to another!


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